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Neil Patrick Harris: "Witch Hunt" Made Me Come Out

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Neil Patrick Harris: "Witch Hunt" Made Me Come Out

br-71255.jpg For Neil Patrick Harris, life hasn't changed much since the November day he confirmed that he's "a content gay man."

But as uneventful as the news was, especially to adoring fans who have had him on their radar since Clara's Heart, the How I Met Your Mother star said during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday that going megapublic (People magazine interview) wasn't really his style.

"There was a little media scrutiny heading my way," Harris told DeGeneres, whose own coming out 10 years ago on the cover of Time was a national event. "I've been dating the same guy for three years and our families know. We go out together all the time, but I just feel like, as an actor, part of your occupation is retaining a bit of mystery so you can be believable in many different types of roles.

"So I never felt it was an obligation for me to hold pinkies down the red carpet or anything."

E! Online Eventually, it was the threat of scandal and even more unnecessary tabloid coverage that prompted Harris, 33, to get it all out there.

"I just didn't find it important, but other people did and I sort of sensed this witch hunt brewing," the former Doogie Howser explained. "People were starting to ask for stories of other people that may have fooled around with me, and the last thing you want to do is talk about your private life based on scandal. I'm not a very scandalous person…so I just made a statement and sort of squashed the fires."

To Harris' credit, he certainly didn't have to worry about making his turn as the suit-wearing, monogamy-fearing Barney on CBS' How I Met Your Mother any less believable. As the sitcom finishes up its second season, Harris can nearly always be counted on for major laughs in each episode.

And to the public's credit, all Harris has to worry about each week is which shirt goes with which tie.

"The greatest ending to the story so far is that nothing really has changed at all," the actor said regarding his fans' response to his November outing. "I'm doing nothing different and people aren't behaving differently toward me, and the fact that it's a nonissue—people heard and they're like, 'yeah, and?'—that attitude, I think, is great. It wasn't so shocking.

"The normalcy of it...is important for people to appreciate. In today's media there are lots of examples of that, and it's good to see people just being themselves."

DeGeneres knew exactly where Harris was coming from. "It's a freer way to live," she agreed. "I think honesty is very important and also you don't have to worry" about someone else spilling your secrets.

Harris concurred. "It's all little baby steps, but it's working okay for me."

Aside from taking part in more formally dressed antics on How I Met Your Mother, Harris will also be reprising his role as a whacked-out version of himself in Harold & Kumar 2 and lending his voice to Justice League: The New Frontier. The erstwhile Rent star returned to the New York stage Monday as the Narrator in a special performance of The Rocky Horror Tribute Show, benefiting breast cancer research, at the American Airlines Theater.

© 2007 E! Entertainment Television, Inc. All rights reserved., http://www.eonline.com/about/copyright/index.jsp

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